21 October 2009

Genetic Intelligence: Molecules of Memory

Since overexpression of NR2B is reportedly capable of enhancing memory function in mice [7], [20], [21], we wonder whether overexpression of NR2B would also benefit memory function in rats. Thus, we conducted a set of behavioral experiments, namely novel object recognition test, hidden-platform water maze, and T-maze spatial working memory tests, to see if the transgenic rats exhibit better memory performances....our studies provide strong evidence that the NR2B subunit represents a universal rate-limiting molecule for gating NMDA receptor's optimal coincidence-detection property and for enhancing memory function in adulthood across multiple mammalian species. _PLoSONE
"Overexpression" of a gene means that more of the "gene's protein" is expressed in the cytoplasm than would occur without intervention. If the gene in question causes the brain's hippocampus to lay down new memories more efficiently, the animal will learn more and remember better.
NR2B is a subunit of NMBA receptors, which are like small pores on brain cells that let in electrically-charged ions that increase the activity and communication of neurons. Dr. Tsien refers to NR2B as the "juvenile" form of the receptor because its levels decline after puberty and the adult counterpart, NR2A, becomes more prevalent.

While the juvenile form keeps communication between brain cells open maybe just a hundred milliseconds longer, that's enough to significantly enhance learning and memory and why young people tend to do both better, says Dr. Tsien, the Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar in Cognitive and Systems Neurobiology. This trap door configuration that determines not just how much but how fast information flows is unique to NMBA receptors.

Scientists found that Hobbie-J consistently outperformed the normal Long Evans rat even in more complex situations that require association, such as working their way through a water maze after most of the designated directional cues and the landing point were removed. "It's like taking Michael Jordan and making him a super Michael Jordan," Deheng Wang, MCG graduate student and the paper's first author, says of the large black and white rats already recognized for their superior intellect. _RedOrbit
So we see that the overexpressing NR2B improves memory formation and retention for both mice and rats. Would it also work for humans? And if tuning up the hippocampus' NMDA receptors can make humans smarter, what other clever tweaks of gene expression have the same potential or greater? The researchers above are also testing supplementing animal diets with magnesium in an attempt to achieve similar improved memory function without having to perform sophisticated gene modification interventions.

The mainstream rejection of a genetic influence on intelligence is a perfect example of self-imposed blindness and stupidity. It permeates universities, media, and government. Generations of young people have been indoctrinated into this socially engineered incompetence, when they could have been working to help all of us learn to be more intelligent.

Frontal lobe function -- executive function -- is even more important than IQ in determining life success. But executive function (EF) is perhaps even more heritable than IQ. Genetics, once again.

If the mainstream wishes to blind itself to reality, there may be little that more thoughtful minorities can do about it. Except to keep their eyes open and continue learning how to use the laws of reality to make themselves better.

Image via ScienceDaily

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Blogger Unknown said...

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Wednesday, 21 October, 2009  
Blogger al fin said...

Thanks for the link. It looks like a fascinating website.

Thursday, 22 October, 2009  

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